Rachel Blau DuPlessis

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Rachel Blau DuPlessis (born 1941, in Brooklyn, New York) is an American poet and essayist, known as a feminist critic and scholar with a special interest in modernist and contemporary poetry.

Life and work[edit]

DuPlessis teaches English and Creative Writing at Temple University and is the author of Writing Beyond the Ending: Narrative Strategies of Twentieth-Century Women Writers (1985), H.D.: The Career of that Struggle (1986), both from Indiana University Press; The Pink Guitar: Writing as Feminist Practice (Routledge, 1990) and Genders, Races, and Religious Cultures in Modern American Poetry, 1908-1934 (ISBN 0-521-48335-2, Cambridge University Press, 2001) [1]

DuPlessis earned her PhD in 1970 from Columbia University and her dissertation was titled "The Endless Poem: "Paterson" of William Carlos Williams and "The Pisan Cantos" of Ezra Pound.[2] Among some of her honors, she has received the Roy Harvey Pearce / Archive for New Poetry Prize (2002) as a scholar poet. In 2002 she was awarded a Pew Fellowship for Artists.


DuPlessis is the editor of numerous volumes as diverse as The Selected Letters of George Oppen (Duke University Press, 1990) and with Peter Quartermain of The Objectivist Nexus: Essays in Cultural Poetics (University of Alabama Press, 1999).

In conjunction with teaching and editing projects, DuPlessis has been writing her "poem of a life," called "Drafts." Among others, poet Ron Silliman has referred to DuPlessis's poem Drafts as a "life poem":

More than any other text, Drafts has made me understand the difference between the longpoem and the life poem, and I read Drafts, like (Zukofsky's “A”), like The Cantos, like Bev Dahlen’s A Reading, like my own project, as an instance of the latter.[3]

Since 1985, Rachel Blau DuPlessis has been composing this "endless poem" in canto-like sections, grouped in nineteen units. Their themes involve: history, gender, mourning and hope. The first two numbers of Drafts initially appeared in Leland Hickman’s journal, Temblor, two years before being collected into a volume entitled Tabula Rosa, published by Peter Ganick’s Potes & Poets Press.[3]

Since then, DuPlessis's "life poem" project is collected in (as of February 2010): Drafts 1-38, Toll (Wesleyan University Press, 2001) and Drafts 39-57, Pledge, with Draft, Unnumbered: Précis (Salt Publishing, 2004), Torques: Drafts 58-76 (Salt Publishing, 2007), Pitch: Drafts 77-95 (Salt Publishing, 2010), and Surge: Drafts 96-114 (Salt Publishing, 2013). In 2006, two books of essays were published: Blue Studios: Poetry and Its Cultural Work (2006), and the ground-breaking The Pink Guitar: Writing as Feminist Practice ([1990] 2006) both from University of Alabama Press.

Uncollected Drafts
    • Recent Drafts

“Draft 78: Buzz Track.” Interval(le)s II.2-III.3 (Fall 2008/Winter 2009)

“Draft 81: Gap.” BlackBox Manifold (Summer 2009).¹

“Draft 84: Juncture” Salt Magazine 2 (March 2009).

“Draft 91: Proverbs.” 17 seconds: a journal of poetry and poetics (Fall 2008).

“Draft 92: Translocation.” EOAGH 5 (July 2009).

“Draft 94: Mail Art.” Jacket Magazine 37 (March 2009).

“Draft 97: Rubrics.” BlackBox Manifold (Summer 2009).

    • A Periodicity of [4]

The “Line of 15” from Drafts. All poems to date (2009) from this thread, which is “the little.” Other Voices Anthology, ed. Roger Humes. (Journal sponsored by UNESCO)

    • Six Vispo Works

Drunken Boat 10[5](July 2009).[6]


  1. ^ This work demonstrates how, through poetic language, modernist writers represented the debates around such social issues of modernity as suffrage, sexuality, manhood, and African-American and Jewish subjectivities. DuPlessis engages with the work of such canonical poets as Wallace Stevens, Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, Gertrude Stein, Marianne Moore and H. D., as well as Mina Loy, Countee Cullen, Alfred Kreymborg and Langston Hughes. These writers are still marginalized by existing constructions of modernism. By a reading method she calls 'social philology', this book is an attempt to remap our understanding of modern poetries and poetics and the relationship between early twentieth-century writing and society.
  2. ^ for more info see: Paterson ; William Carlos Williams ; The Pisan Cantos ; & Ezra Pound
  3. ^ a b [1]
  4. ^ 19http://www.othervoicespoetry.org/vol39/duplessis/index.html
  5. ^ http://drunkenboat.com/db10/10vis/duplessis.html
  6. ^ from Silliman's Blog

External links[edit]